Monday, August 24, 2009

Free from Tomorrow's Pessimism

There are a lot of pessimistic people today. They’re pessimistic about government, about schools, about religion and churches. They’re pessimistic about the economy, and their jobs.

The truth is, people have lost faith in a lot of things.

But really when you get down to it, most people are discouraged about personal issues. And some are very pessimistic and cynical.

The reality is that when you are pessimistic, you are unhappy. And being unhappy is a terrible way to live.

Pessimism causes unhappiness, but that is where a lot of people are. They are without hope.

What is it that causes people to lose hope? Why is it that we lose hope so quickly?

When it comes down to it, there are two reasons why people lose hope.

People lose hope when they face a situation that needs to be changed and they can’t change it.

It might be a circumstance you wish you could change, or maybe a person in your life, or maybe yourself. But whatever it is that needs to be changed, when you realize it’s not happening, it’s easy to lose hope.

Have you ever heard someone say, “My marriage is hopeless. I have tried to make this thing work, but it isn’t working. We’ve tried everything: talking it over, going to a counselor. It’s still not working.” And the hope starts to drain out.

Or parents will say, “I’m watching my kids make wrong decisions, and hang out with the wrong crowd. I see them headed for destruction, and I am helpless to get them back on track. I feel a sense of despair.”

Or people say, “No matter what I do my finances are getting worse and worse. I'm getting further and further behind.”

Or “I see things in my life that I’d really like to change. I don’t want to stay the same. I want to grow. I want to develop. I want to be different. But I just can’t get it together no matter what I do.”

There’s another reason people lose hope and become pessimistic: when they don’t know their purpose in life.

The Bible is very clear that God made everyone on earth for a purpose. The sad thing is many people go all through life never discovering either: (a) a relationship with God, or (b) the purpose for their lives.

If you don’t know your purpose in life, life is pointless.

Have you ever wondered, “What does God think of me?” Maybe you’ve even wondered, “Does God even think about me?” The truth is God thinks about you all the time far more than you think about Him.

The Bible tells us that God is constantly thinking about you. What does He think about you? Does He think about how bad you are? No. Does He think about what a disappointment you are? No. Does He think about how you just don’t measure up to His standard of perfection? No.

The Bible tells us what God thinks about you.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The Hebrew word translated “plans” is machashabah. It means “a thought, a plan, or an invention or design”.

Have you ever accused anyone of not ever having an original thought? Well, God has nothing but original thoughts. And He has original thoughts about you! He invents things for you. He invents your future. And his inventions are good, and prosperous, and filled with hope!

The word translated “prosper” is the word shalom. It means completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace. No reason for pessimism in that definition.

The word translated “hope” is tiqvah. It literally means “a cord”; i.e. something to hold on to. It refers to an expectation of a desired outcome; something you long for.

God spoke these words to a group of people whose situation was the exact opposite of prosperity, peace, and hope. They were in captivity, with no apparent hope for freedom.

The Jews had no thoughts of peace and prosperity for themselves. They had no hope of a blessed future. But God gave them hope.

You’ve got to have hope. Hope is essential for life. You’ve got to have hope to cope.

When inevitable tough times come into your life who are you going to turn to? Where is your source of hope? Where is your rock?

What are your spiritual anchors? Do you have them? Do you have a relationship to God? Have you made that kind of commitment to Him?

Psalms 125:1 (NIV)
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

Where do you get the source of hope when things are going wrong? One thing you can know for sure is that no matter what happens, God’s never going to stop loving you.

Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Maybe you’ve felt unworthy. Maybe you felt, “I can’t come to God because of all the stuff I’ve done in my life.” You’re wrong. God has a gift for you through Jesus Christ. It is freedom—freedom from yesterday pain, the today’s pressures, and the pessimism about your future: all the worry, doubt, and fear.

But a gift is worthless if you never receive it. You’ve got to take it.

Illustration: I have here a twenty-dollar bill. Would anybody like this twenty-dollar bill? If I crumple it, does anybody still want it? If I step on it, stomp on it, does anybody still want it? No matter what I did to it, it did not lose its value. I could even tear it in two, and you would all still want it because it still hasn’t lost its value.

You’ve had some hard knocks in life. You’ve made some really bad decisions in life. You’ve turned your back on God at times but you have not lost your value to God. You may have some scars, some hurts. You have not lost your value to God. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been. What matters is what decision you make today.

I know all of us are careful to clean our houses when we’re expecting company, if it’s not already clean. Some people would rather hire someone to do the cleaning. But what’s funny is when you hire someone to clean your house, and you decide you need to clean up first so it’ll be ready for the person you hired to clean up. Where’s the logic in that?

Here’s the good news. When Jesus Christ comes into your life, you don’t have to clean up your house first. He doesn’t say, “Get your act together and then come to God.” He doesn’t say, “Clean up your act and be perfect and then come to God.” No, He says, “Let me into your life and I’ll help you clean it up. I’ll help you get it together. In fact there are areas of your life you’re never going to get together on your own. You’ve tried but you’ve failed. You need God’s power in your life and He says, “Just let me in.”

What do you have to lose? Yesterday’s pain, today’s pressures, and tomorrow’s pessimism.

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